Have you ever had one of those experiences where everything comes together perfectly? When reality surpasses all of your ideas of how something should go? When a good idea becomes a great moment because all the stars align and everyone actually does their part and you end up with a perfect evening instead of simply a good idea?
That’s what happened at our last Activity Days Recognition Night. The idea was not mine. I stole it. I’m a big believer in building on ideas that are already good and proven and then adapting them to fit our individual needs. This activity was passed from my sister to my sister-in-law with fabulous results. They did it for their young women’s groups (ages 12-18) but I knew it would translate perfectly for our 8-11 year-olds.
UPDATE: I have received emails and comments about the invite so I’ll add that here. I purchased glassine bags (look like wax paper) very inexpensively from amazon.com. Click here to see the ones I chose. They are 4 1/2″ x 6 3/4″ in size (11.4 cm x 17.1 cm). I used that size because they came in a package of 100 for only about $10 and the numbers worked out that we could use one package for both the invitations and the refreshments so I got them large enough to put the popcorn in.
I designed the invite in Illustrator and it is not possible to offer you a file that you can manipulate in Word so you won’t be able to just use this invite, but I’ll tell you that it doesn’t have to look exactly like this to be darling. Add some baker’s twine (I pick mine up from pickyourplum.com whenever the spools go on sale because it is heavyweight and lasts forever). I put ALL the info on the invite so that everyone could be prepared with their presentations.
If you look at the picture further down in this post you’ll see the back of the invite has the message to the parents and what their responsibility is that night. To create the gray lattice on the back I used my Silhouette Cameo and cut out one of my pattern shapes. I used that as a mask and simply placed it over the back of each invite and lightly sprayed spray paint over the top. I didn’t take the time to adhere the mask so I just sprayed very carefully directly over the top of the page (a little farther from the page so that it wouldn’t blow the mask up) and called it good. I like the effect of the paint being blended and “not perfectly crisp.” If you want the pattern more crisp then you’ll probably need to use removable adhesive to adhere the mask down each time.
Text About the Bags Said This:
GIRLS, PLEASE BRING A BAG THAT REPRESENTS YOU (such as your backpack, purse, dance bag, sports bag, etc.)
and fill it with three items that reflect YOUR PROGRESS in each of the three areas of the Faith In God program (be prepared to share about them for 3 minutes total)
1. Learning & Living the Gospel
2. Serving Others
3. Developing Talents
Each girl brings a bag of their choice (purse, backpack, dance bag, whatever) with 3 things in it – one item for each of the 3 areas of the Faith in God program (service, living the gospel, developing talents). They knew they would share for no more than 3 minutes total about their items and I was totally impressed with their preparation and the thought they put into their items.
We started with a very short message about “what we are carrying” in the bags of our lives and how to keep the most important things handy. Then each girl shared their items in their bags – what each item represented and why they included it. (Scroll down to the “Update” because Mindy put together a great lesson for this portion. I’ve shared her idea below).
The “Service” category included things like writing to their brothers on their missions, helping friends at school and babysitting the neighbor’s baby. For “Developing Talents,” we learned a lot about the loves and hobbies of our girls. Piano, softball, sewing, reading, dance, karate, and even cutting vinyl! Lots of talents were shared and celebrated that night. Finally, as the girls shared about “Learning and Living the Gospel,” we learned about scriptures, prayer, Primary, and family home evening. Each girl was very thoughtful in what they chose to bring in their bag. They had practiced what they were going to say and did a wonderful job of talking about their own progress in the Faith in God program.
What could be better than the program being carried out by the girls themselves? It was often touching, sometimes funny, definitely surprising, and always meaningful. We learned that Savannah earned her lacrosse bag by selling 29 coupon books in the fundraiser! No one else even came close!
We learned that Olivia aspires to be a fashion designer and learned to crochet from just one 30 minute lesson from her mom. Oh, and she loves pigs.
We learned that Karissa has been befriending a less-fortunate girl at school who was being teased by their classmates and Madison has been working on developing her talents in the kitchen – especially with “baked goods.” Yum.
After their daughter shared their items, parents were asked to take 1 minute to share ONE QUALITY that they have seen grow in their daughter over the last 6 months. It was a focused, simple way to have parents share publicly about their daughter but keep the time under control. Happy tears were shed, smiles were plentiful and there were lots of spontaneous hugs to go around.
About 45 minutes and 20 girls later (not bad, right?), we wrapped things up with a short message encouraging the girls to cling to their parents as one of the best things they could “carry” with them throughout their lives. We then gave each girl a letter from their parents that we had gathered before the evening. This step takes forever to pull together but it’s worth every phone call and reminder text to track down a letter for each girl. Treasures. That’s what those letters were. Not only did each girl get to share their goals and achievements, but they got to hear what makes them special from their parents – both verbally and in writing. And the whole fabulous night only lasted a total of about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
So simple. We just gathered shopping bags from appropriate shops and stores that coordinated (pink, black and white became our color-scheme because that’s that the majority of shopping bags color motif). We used my trusty pedestals in our colors and placed shopping bags on and around them.
Add some tissue paper in each bag and tie a balloon to the handle and you’ve got fun and beautiful decor on the cheap. I used my foamboard covered in fabric as a backdrop and added some pink banners and called it good. I think the decorations cost about $2 for the tissue paper that I didn’t have on hand.
Popcorn drizzled in white chocolate (thinned just a touch to make it light and easy to pour) and placed in the rest of the glassine bags (same as we used for the invites). I used box lids as the “trays” and covered it in wrapping paper to keep the color-scheme going. Those glassine bags were also used for our invitations. I purchased a package of 100 for $10 and we had enough for both the invites as well as the popcorn.
My top 3 qualifications for a great idea. This one didn’t disappoint. It’ll work for any group, young or old, boys, girls, whatever. It’s easily adapted and totally perfect. Perfect because it is focused on each individual. It’s for them, about them, and in celebration of them. And that’s what turns this good idea into a great one.
Try it with your group and let me know how it goes. I can’t wait to hear.
Another group in our neighborhood did this same activity this week – here is how they ROCKED IT!
LESSON IDEA: Mindy brought her own biking bag and in it were various items that are used to PROTECT her when she rides. She discussed each item and how it protects her PHYSICALLY.
Then she pulled out the things that protect us SPIRITUALLY and talked about each one. This lesson idea keeping the things close to use that will protect us and help us return to our Heavenly Father can be easily adapted if you are not a cyclist like Mindy. Great idea.
FAVORITE MOMENT: The girls all did a darling job as they shared what was in their bags and how they had grown in the gospel and in life. But when Autumn shared that she has been working on magic tricks – THEN DID ONE FOR US – well, that was my favorite moment of the night! Where else could you see “The Amazing Autumn” than at Activity Days?
BEST. TREAT. EVER. Can you say popcorn bar? Mindy found recipes on Pinterest for a variety of popcorn flavors and let everyone scoop their own bag. By making her own, it only cost about $20 for this treat and it added such a great atmosphere of celebration. Plus, the room smelled yummy!